After pushing corn seedings in recent years, U.S. farmers plan a major shift to soybeans in 2014, according to the latest Farm Futures survey of growers' planting intentions for spring.
Producers are ready to slash corn seedings to 92.23 million, down 3.7% from the total USDA estimated in November, and 5.3% less than originally planned by growers in 2013 before cold, wet weather prevented many fields from being planted. Still, if achieved, the 92.23 million would be the fourth most put in since World War II.
All the ground cut from corn could wind up in soybeans. Farmers indicated they want to put in 82.34 million acres of beans in 2014, up 7.6 over 2013 and easily a record. Growers have been trying to get rotations back in line for several years, and changing market conditions could finally allow the transition to occur.
Farm Futures' first survey of growers last summer found the shift out of corn already underway, with initial corn intentions put at 94.11 million, with soybeans at 78.75 million. Market signals sent a clear message to farmers, says Farm Futures Senior Editor Bryce Knorr, who conducted the research.
"When we first surveyed growers in late July and early August, the ratio of new crop soybeans to corn was trading around 2.36 to 1," said Knorr. "During December the ratio reached 2.58 to 1, providing a clear edge to soybeans, while projected corn profitability dropped to break-even levels."
Adverse spring weather in 2013 also prevented farmers from seeding some spring wheat and durum fields. That ground should return to those crops, helping increase total wheat acreage to 57.64 million, up 2.6%. Winter wheat acres will be up less than 1%, to 43.3 million, according to the Farm Futures survey.
Farm Futures surveyed more than 1,600 farmers by email during December. Results of the spring planting intentions survey were released Tuesday at the Farm Futures Business Summit in St. Louis. USDA releases its prospective plantings estimates on March 31.